- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
305

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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IRKUTSK TO VLADIVOSTOK:
305
and rafts in their present state, and plans are on foot
to construct locks at some of the worst. Their con
struction is assured, if this regular trade route through
the Kara Sea becomes an accomplished fact, as is
hoped. Unfortunately we had no time to stop here
and see the town, which lies on the other side of the
river. We only saw it in the distance, with its churches,
the palace of the Governor-General and other large
buildings,* as we went up the Angarå, and crossed
this river higher up. In contrast to the Yenisei and
the other rivers we had hitherto seen in Siberia, the
waters of the Angarå are remarkably clear, so that
one can see the bottom at a depth of many fathoms.
This is of course owing to its feeders running through
niountainous country, and to its flowing out of the
great mountain lake, Baikål, the deepest lake in the
world, where the water has plenty of time to clear.
Then at last we reached this, the Holy Lake, to
which we had looked forward with such great expecta
tions. It is called by the Mongolians Bai-kul, the
rich lake, or Dalai-Nor, the holy lake.f One had heard
much of its natural beauty ; but there was a thick mist,
so for the time being we saw nothing of our surroundings.
At Baikål, the first station we came to, there was a
harbour for the great ice-breaker and ferry, the Baikål,
which formerly carried the trains across the lake to the
railway line on the other side, and was said to be able
to go through ice four feet thick. She is one of the
largest ice-breakers in the world, and her hull is
built very like the Fram^s fore and aft. But she could
not manage the ice in winter. For repairing this ice
breaker and other vessels on the lake, a large floating
* Irkutsk has about 130,000 inhabitants.
f According to another account the Mongolians and Buriats call
the lake Bai-gal, which is said to mean the abode of fire.

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